Upon accepting a position at Valdosta State University, Dr. Tolulope Salami, along with his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Omiteru-Salami, moved to Valdosta from the United Kingdom. Little did they know, at the time, they would soon be the creators and owners of a small building with a big purpose—the only one of its kind known to the Valdosta area.
According to research, when students reach high school, particularly girls, they tend to lose interest in science and mathematics. With this statistic in mind, the Salami’s entered their business plan, for a place aimed at sparking children’s interest in science, in the S.E.E.D competition. They placed second, missing the winning prize of $10,000 in start-up money.
Fortunately, for the Salami’s, the need to create a creative space for kids to explore all things science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, also known as S.T.E.M., was too important a task to give up on.
“When I talk to my friends, they say that they take their kids to [places outside of the local area] to have a hands-on learning experience, so I thought, this would be a good thing to do,” Omiteru said.
From concept to completion, the Cre8ive Zone came to life in just 2 ½ years, and it currently enhances the minds of all children who pay it a visit.
As natives of London, the Salami’s enjoy traveling and have taken their children to places including Paris and Rome.
“Those places are so different from Valdosta, especially if you go to London, they have so many museums—including science—to go to,” Omiteru said.
Omiteru realizes that a smaller town such as Valdosta is not as likely to have interactive museums comparable to those in bigger cities, but she also realizes the impact of developing kids’ interest in science—no matter how small.
“We believe creating that love [for S.T.E.M] at elementary age will help students when they get to middle school,” Omiteru said.
At the Cre8ive Zone, children can don a lab coat and goggles and conduct a variety of experiments including homemade volcanoes or even test their robot building skills.
“We try to create experiments that replicate playing,” Omiteru said. “Basically, we’re trying to develop their interest in science through play.”
With a doctorate in curriculum and instruction, Omiteru skillfully develops programs and experiments suitable for children of all ages. She stresses not using complex words and demonstrating advanced concepts in a simple, easy to understand way.
Omiteru believes demonstration is very important because children are less likely to forget things when they see and do interactive experiments and activities.
In addition to hosting field trips and science-themed birthday parties, the Cre8ive Zone offers open labs on Friday and Saturday for $15 per child.
Upon arrival, your child can browse a booklet of different experiments and choose one based on his or her interests.
“When [our guests] come, the kids don’t want to leave and neither do the adults,” Omiteru said.
For more information, visit the Cre8ive Zone at 3320 Bemiss Road, thecre8ivezone.com or call 229-316-8229.